By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer
INDEPENDENCE - Starting Jan. 1, residents here will pay a $12-a-year auto tax.
But the money raised won't be enough to offset a budget shortfall, so city officials are asking residents and business people to serve on a budget committee. That committee would suggest budget cuts and/or a possible tax increase that could be put to a vote next year.
Council approved the auto tax Monday night by a vote of 4-2, with Jim Ellison and Mary Pat Behler dissenting. Two other proposed taxes - a 5% insurance premium tax and a payroll tax increase from 1.25 percent to 1.5 percent - died for lack of any action.
The tax on homeowners and auto insurance would have raised $659,681 a year, more than enough to cover the city's $610,826 shortfall. However, that tax was the most unpopular of the three.
"This puts a harsh burden on citizens who can't afford it - single mothers, senior citizens and families with teen-aged boys," said resident JoAnn Cobble, who argued against the insurance tax
The payroll tax hike would have brought in about $218,353 a year, while the auto tax is expected to generate about $150,000 in annual revenues, city officials said.
"I just don't think it's going to be enough money," Behler said of her vote against the auto tax.
However, council member Eric Dupps, who voted with the majority in approving the auto tax, said "popular opinion was against the insurance tax."
"We're willing to listen to any ideas about increases in revenues or a decrease in services," Dupps said. He added he would like to see "maybe up to a dozen people" serve on the budget committee representing various segments of the community. Residents who want to serve on the budget committee can send a letter to Independence Clerk Patricia Taney at the city building, 5247 Madison Pike, Independence, 41051.
The auto tax, formerly known as the auto sticker fee, is payable on each vehicle registered in the state by an Independence resident, Taney said.
Vehicles with official tags, including school buses and government vehicles, are exempt.
Other Kenton County cities with auto taxes include Bromley, Elsmere, Latonia Lakes, Ludlow, Park Hills and Taylor Mill.
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